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Commuters in the Baltimore area wasted 30 million hours of additional time on the roads, and 19 million gallons of additional gas as a result of traffic congestion in 2005. The additional wasted time and fuel cost the public an equivalent of $426 million, according to the federally sponsored Urban Mobility Report released today by the Texas Transportation Institute. The findings underscore the need for additional transit in the region.
The report shows that traffic congestion would be significantly worse if not for public transportation within the metro area, which prevented $200 million in additional delays compared to what they would have been if existing transit hadn’t taken large numbers of drivers off the region’s roads.
“Population has increased, households own more cars, and drivers travel further each year. Traffic congestion won’t slow down until those trends change,” said Johanna Neumann, Policy Advocate for Maryland PIRG. “State lawmakers need to focus on getting more cars off the road, particularly through enhanced rail and bus transportation.”
Neumann added that, “each full bus can get fifty cars off the road. Drivers across Maryland should be calling for more and better public transportation, even if they’ll never use it.”
The report calculates mobility and traffic congestion on freeways and major streets in 85 cities and is the most authoritative source on the Mid-Atlantic’s traffic conditions.
Traffic congestion worsened steadily since the report first began tracking travel time in 1982. Travel times for commutes have increased in each year of the study. In addition to the growing average length of commuting trips, drivers must allocate additional time to avoid being late because traffic problems are increasingly unpredictable.
“For decades, we’ve tried to fight traffic congestion by building new roads,” said Neumann. “This report is further evidence of the failure of that strategy. Instead we need to expand bus and rail systems to reduce the number of drivers on the road. Doing so will reduce our nation’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels and address congestion problems before they cripple our metro areas.”
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